Monday, April 21, 2008

The Scrutiny starts

After a morning spent discussing various campaign issues with the rest of the group it was time to head to Stockton for the first meeting of the Environment Select committee of the new municipal year. This was the moment of truth when members were confronted with the fact that our new topic for scrutiny had been decided for us by the Executive Scrutiny committee from a list proposed largely by officers of the council. So much for member led scrutiny in our much vaunted excellent authority. We have the dubious privilege of scrutinising Customer First, Stockton Council's programme to ensure that the customer (whether residents, businesses or other departments within the council) will get the best possible service. It's going to be difficult - people are now realising that when John Fletcher stood up at meetings and protested that the changes being introduced would mean that ordinary councillors would have little or no say over what their committee scrutinised he was right. At the time people scoffed and said he was being awkward. Well he was vindicated and I'm glad we as a group agreed with him, even though we weren't as vociferously supportive as we could have been. I suspect that even we didn't really believe it was going to be as bad as it is.
So, the blind leading the blind comes to mind. None of the councillors really know in detail what the programme involves and as long as it works we're not that interested. It's the result that counts for us. Do our residents get good service? So all we want now is to get through it as fast as possible so that we can get on to something interesting!
Moan over - the sun was lovely this afternoon and the towels dried quickly on the line. Let's keep focussed on the important things in life!

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